A Place to Feel Safe
In October of 2020, Mitch Linthorne was at work when he fell sixteen feet and landed on concrete.
When Mia Linthorne first received the call about her son’s accident, she was told that they thought he had broken his leg. Soon Mia learned his injuries were far more severe.”(I) heard my child was in a coma and being rushed to Hamilton. A far cry from a broken leg,” says Mia.
Shockingly, Mitch did not suffer any broken bones. He did, however, suffer a traumatic brain injury. First treated at a local hospital, he was quickly transferred to Hamilton’s General Hospital. That night he had a craniectomy to remove a large section of his skull. He remained in a coma and on life support for two weeks.
After arriving in Hamilton, Mia’s first few nights were spent in a downtown hotel before a social worker referred her to The Mark Preece Family House. Coming from her rural home, 45 minutes outside of Owen Sound, Ontario, the city was overwhelming for Mia. “Staying two nights downtown was the scariest place to be,” but once she was settled at The House, she felt safe.
Over the next three weeks, Mia and her three sisters stayed at The House. “It was a godsend for us. It was close to the hospital and I could run over anytime. The security escorts back to The House provided comfort to my husband and me. The staff were fantastic! From extra handmade quilts to using the fax machine to run my business and lending an ear when I returned from the ICU unit.” Her sisters took turns supporting Mia as well, keeping her fed and cared for while Mia placed all of her attention on Mitch.
Although COVID protocols limited the usual programs at The House, like cooked meals through Thyme4Dinner, Mia and her family appreciated the access to a full kitchen. “It was great to walk to the grocery store to make our meals and not have to eat out. We’re not the eat-out kind of people.”
In the months following, Mitch and Mia would go back and forth between their home, Hamilton, and London where Mitch continues to receive support in his recovery.
It took 377 days for Mitch’s skull to be placed back in his head. Every time they returned to Hamilton, Mia was comforted to know The House was available to her. “It was great. I know the area, I don’t have to drive because everything is close by.”
Since Mitch’s care has switched to a London hospital, Mia has missed the comforts of The House. “Now we need to stay in a hotel, with no interactions. It’s just not the same,” she shares. “It involves more planning too as I need to book taxis to take me back and forth from the hospital.”
Mia and her family are why The Mark Preece Family House exists, to provide much-needed rest and comfort for individuals and families dealing with extremely stressful situations. Reflecting on her time at The House, Mia shares, “Everybody there was fantastic! It just made you feel like you had a family. Even though I had my three sisters, it was nice to have people I could talk to that weren’t as close to the trauma. I needed that!”
This holiday season help us continue to provide a comforting home away from home for people like Mia.
The Rockton Lions are Cooking Up Something Delicious
Since 2016, the Rockton Lions Club has been serving up comforting and delicious meals for guests of The Mark Preece Family House through the Thyme4Dinner program. A program where individuals and organizations volunteer to prepare a meal for the families who are staying at The House. Meals can be as simple as items for a Sunday brunch or as elaborate as a holiday feast.
On the first Wednesday of every month, a few volunteers from the Lions Club show up to cook. They are proud to share they haven’t missed a month (other than when the program was on hold through COVID). They even added a few Sundays throughout the year to give opportunities to their volunteers who are only available on weekends.
Over the years, their menus have included everything from burgers to pork chops to chicken parmesan. “We even once did a Christmas meal with turkey, soup, all the trimmings and pie,” shares organizer Pat Evangelisto. “Lately, we have tried to include some vegetarian options as well.” The Lions Club also provide containers so people can take food to their loved ones in the hospital, if they would like.
What makes them return each month?
“We always leave The House feeling very fulfilled. We have met some incredible people from
everywhere with some incredible and sometimes sad stories. Our people are very engaged and
it’s great to see [the] guests enjoying a good home-cooked meal,” says Pat.
Not only do the Rockton Lions Club volunteer with Thyme4Dinner but they also support The House financially. “Preparing meals is just an extension to that,” says Pat. The Rockton Lions know that few people from the Hamilton community use The House, but realize the importance of it to people from other communities.
Pat says that the Lions’ motto “We Serve” is really reflected in their work with The House.
Are you or someone you know interested in volunteering for our Thyme4Dinner program? You can volunteer once or on a more regular basis. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-529-0770 to learn more!
Supporting the Human Spirit
There is an essential human life force that compels us to step up and help a family member or friend in a crisis. It may be as simple as picking up the mail or dropping off a casserole. Or checking in on a loved one who is going through a difficult time. Being charitable is hardwired in us all. We see it in every community, no matter where you are in the world; we all possess that wonderful human quality that turns us toward helping someone in need.
Over the past 11 years, we have supported nearly 7,000 families dealing with unimaginable medical circumstances that take them away from their homes and to our community.
The last two years have presented many challenges for The Mark Preece Family House. We have weathered the storms of a global pandemic, closures, cancelled fundraising events and so much more, but all the while we have been focused on our mission. We provide temporary, affordable, accessible accommodation in a supportive environment for families of acute care in-patients being treated in Hamilton area hospitals.
Hamilton hospitals are centres of excellence for a variety of medical procedures. People from all over North America end up being treated here. If you have come from afar in these circumstances your best results occur by having your family close by to provide emotional support. Our staff and volunteers are exceptional at delivering first-class accommodations in a supportive environment right next to the hospital so that families can focus on their loved ones.
If you believe in what we do, and perhaps more importantly, if you believe in nurturing the human spirit, please donate this holiday season and help us continue to provide a home away from home to families in need.
Mary Hatt, Co-Director